Mar 292015

by Brandy Clark


Her tiny body trapped

under an oxygen tent,

tubes going down her nose

and coiling around her neck

like skinny, plastic snakes.

Purple splotches, bruises marking

her epidermis, from where nurses

tried again and again to force

intravenous needles in her arms.

RSV and pneumonia, two words

uttered in hushed tones by RNs

and MDs coming in and out

of my sister’s room, two words

I did not understand.

All I understood:  her lungs

were filled with fluid, and each breath

taken turned into a struggle, a fight

through phlegmatic depths.

Not allowed to see her, except

from behind ICU glass, and as I

watched her hands grasp

at nothing but air

I wondered what she tried

to reach for, what else there

was left to reach for.